Ranch auction set
for July 19
RBC — The Keystone Ranch sold last month to the neighboring Buffalo Horn Ranch.
David and Patty Johnson, along with their daughter Lori and husband John Fowle and their three children will be moving to the new ranch they have purchased in southern Kansas.
Their oldest daughter Cindy and husband Will Grady moved their family last May to northwestern Missouri.
Their youngest daughter Betty and husband Jason Kracht will be staying in Meeker with their children.
The Johnson’s will be taking their cattle and horses to their new place but the rest of the ranching operation will be liquidated at 10 a.m. July 19 with an auction at the ranch. The Johnsons say it was a difficult decision to leave the Meeker area where they have been a part of the community for nearly 30 years, but the family is excited about the change and looking forward to calling their Kansas ranch home.
The Keystone Ranch sits roughly 30 miles northwest of Meeker on Price Creek in the Coyote Basin. First established as a cattle ranch in 1886 by Colonel Ben Price of Pennsylvania, the ranch started out with 2,000 head of cattle and at one time employed 30 cowboys during the summer months.
The ranch was later known as the Utah Colorado Cattle Company, branding all of their cattle with a sprawling UCC from shoulder to hip and their horses with a smaller keystone symbol.
The ranch was well known for its large brick house with the signature keystone in the arch over the front porch, and was quite an impressive house in its day.
The Keystone is probably best known as the place that Teddy Roosevelt came to hunt mountain lions for three weeks in January 1901 as president-elect. He killed nearly 30 cats during his stay at the ranch, the largest of which held the world record until 2001.
The skull of the 227 pound lion that he killed on the ranch can still be viewed at the Boone and Crockett Museum in Missoula, Mont.
The Keystone went on to be owned by many different outfits and nearly every old timer in Meeker worked or had family that worked for the ranch over the years and countless names and dates were written on the walls of the bunkhouse by the many cowboys that stayed there.
The Johnson family purchased the ranch in the fall of 1987, when David and Patty and their three girls moved there from the Piceance Creek Ranch. They have continued to run a cow-calf operation there for the past 21 years, enjoying the good years and enduring the bad ones, learning to live with Mormon crickets, the drought and the BLM and the several pipelines that have cut across the ranch during the years.